The photo collection “Anthropology of a Young Man” dissects masculinity by blending in femininity and softening and reappropriating masculine symbols – by painting select sportswear gold, putting metallic stars where football war paint might otherwise be smeared, and kissing a baseball instead of throwing it. My choice for the use of gold in the photographs was to demonstrate the “golden boy” or American ideal of a man; a guy who thrives in athletics, asserts his manhood, and is conventionally handsome. In a similar way, the stars are meant to represent a patriotic and conforming identity that feed into this outdated vision of masculinity; it’s a reappropriation of football war paint and re-evaluate the definition of strength.
This concept of the well-rounded American boy doesn’t exist and is merely an expired ideal. These photos complicate and unpack the idea of American boyhood through visions of sexual struggle, masculine authority, and an external toughness. The model portrayed in the series is a classical vision of the American man, but defies stereotypes through his gender and sexual identity. I was interested in capturing a 1970s suburban nostalgic feel in the collection to construct a bridge between the classical American male and a modern man. By placing a contemporary model in a sentimental setting of a baseball field, I showed a connection between this golden boy of the 70s and paired it with the sexuality charged undertones of a modern male. I attempted to demonstrate the dissonance between gender ideals and reality by capitalizing on the strict confines of a male during this decade. I found the theme of sexual innocence to be particularly fascinating and wanted to explore that through images like the practice kiss, nudity with the power of a rifle, and the key to the boys’ locker room. These images are pivotal to the collection since they juxtapose orthodox athleticism with softer, intimate feelings. “Anthropology of a Young Man” is meant to deconstruct traditional symbols of masculinity and blur the lines between male and female aesthetics.